Here are items that are of current, local or special interest. Submissions welcome (send to mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org). Updates will be infrequent during the summer so see also Other green news sources and Good News
Coal is no longer king in America. That’s the latest findings from the U.S. Energy Information Administration; it lost its number one spot as the nation’s top electricity source for the first time on record this April. See Fossil Fuels 7/15.
New Study Says Climate Change Helped Spark Syrian Civil War (and thus ISIS?) NYT see Global Warming.
World's Oceans Clogged By Millions Of Tons Of Plastic Trash scientists estimating that a staggering 8 million metric tones of plastic pollution enter the oceans each year from the world's 192 coastal countries based on 2010 data. Based on rising waste levels, they estimated that more than 9 million tons would end up in the oceans in 2015. 2/15
Update 1/15 2014 Will Likely Be The Hottest Year on Record, Ocean Temps Spike. High sea temperatures contributed to exceptionally heavy rainfall and floods in many countries and extreme drought in others. see Global Warming.
Two Dozen Coyotes Killed in ‘Wolf-Kill Derby’ Hunting Contest. The second-annual hunting derby of Idaho's coyotes and wolves just ended... See Wolves.
Groundbreaking Report Calculates Damage Done by Fracking includes 280 billion gallons of toxic wastewater generated by fracking in 2012—enough to flood all of Washington, DC, in a 22-foot deep toxic lagoon. See Fracking.
UK Wind Power Smashes Records As Scotland Eyes Fossil-Free Future Across the board, UK wind power generation is breaking records. December generation broke records, with... See wind 1/15.
Lima Peru climate talks lead to Paris next year.
Climate change could be disrupting the relationship between bees and plants, according the research from the University of East Anglia (UEA). 11/14.
Fracking Threatens Millions of Californians A new report shows that 5.4 million Californians—more than 14 percent of its 38.3 million population—live within a mile of an oil or gas well, and almost four million of those, or nearly 70 percent, are Hispanic, Asian or African-American, according to a new Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) report Drilling in California: Who’s at Risk? Non-whites make up slightly more than 40 percent of California’s total population. 10/14. see Fracking.
"Smoking gun": For years scientists have had to (or felt obligated to) put a caveat in front of every statement that it's almost impossible to say climate change is responsible for any given storm. Now we can. 10/14. ***
Greenhouse Gas Levels In Atmosphere Surged To New High In 2013, World Meteorological Organization Reports, so More Than Half Of North American Birds In Trouble Thanks To Climate Change but Californians saved 17 billion gallons of water in July, enough to fill 26,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools, see also Yosemite burns 9/14. Big action 9/21. See Activism.
BP Found Guilty of ‘Gross Negligence’ and ‘Willful Misconduct’ in 2010 Gulf Oil Disaster 9/14 but offshore drilling is expanding into deeper water, Atlantic and Arctic. See Oil.
California Bans Plastic Bags . The bill, which passed both houses of the California State Legislature now heads to the Governor’s desk. If signed, California will become the first state in the U.S. to ban what advocates call “the most ubiquitous consumer item on the planet.” 9/14 see Plastic.
Ohio Water Ban Lifted; Toledo Mayor Says City's Water Is Safe after climate change and agricultural runoff combine in toxic algae bloom update and analysis. 8/14. See Water.
How a Solar-Powered Water Wheel Can Clean 50,000 Pounds of Trash Per Day From Baltimore’s Inner Harbor 6/14 see Plastic.
Could whale-watching replace whaling in Japan? The newly created Japan Whale and Dolphin Watching Council will promote marine mammal eco-tourism, offering a lucrative alternative as Japan loses its taste for hunting wild cetaceans. 6/14 see Whales.
Obama proposes vast expansion of Pacific Ocean sanctuaries for marine life (EPA stepped up on coal too, which will reduce acidification and mercury) 6/14 See Ocean.
Some 39 months after the multiple explosions at Fukushima, thyroid cancer rates among nearby children have skyrocketed to more than forty times (40x) normal. More than 48 percent of some 375,000 young people—nearly 200,000 kids—tested by the Fukushima Medical University near the smoldering reactors now suffer from pre-cancerous thyroid abnormalities, primarily nodules and cysts. The rate is accelerating....The nuclear industry and its apologists continue to deny this public health tragedy. Some have actually asserted that “not one person” has been affected by Fukushima’s massive radiation releases, which for some isotopes exceed Hiroshima by a factor of nearly 30. See also Nuclear energy
Dengue Surges In Latin America: As officials in Brazil frantically mount a last-minute campaign to combat the recent outbreak of dengue fever in the country before the beginning of the World Cup, new data has been released documenting the shocking resurgence of the disease. 5/14 See Global Warming.
Governor Jerry Brown thinks fracking has "zero impact," but we know a few towns in the Central Valley that beg to differ. Kern County is California's most-fracked county. It also has the worst air quality in the nation, as well as highly elevated rates of cancer and respiratory illness. See also Environmental Justice. 5/14.
“Climate change, once considered an issue for a distant future, has moved firmly into the present,” says the latest National Climate Assessment, published by the White House. First specifics on regional effects. 5/14. PBS NewsHour video See Global Warming.
All of California Is Now Under Drought Conditions, and That's Bad News for All of Us. 5/14. See Water.
The latest report from the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warns of a world wracked by hunger, violence, and extinctions. But the IPCC also dedicates chapters to impacts that are underway and anticipated in individual regions and continents. For North America, the report states there is “high confidence” of links between climate change and rising temperatures, ravaging downpours, and declining water supplies. 4/14.
Baykeeper recently helped scuttle proposals by developers for two dangerous new facilities to export dirty coal from the Port of Oakland. Coal breaks apart easily, forming dust that contains mercury, arsenic, uranium, and other toxic substances. Transporting millions of tons of coal in mile-long open car trains to the port, and then loading it onto ships, would send toxic dust into the Bay. It would also further pollute the air of nearby communities already suffering from disproportionate pollution. 3/14.
Great Barrier Reef Sediment Dump Approved For One Of World's Most Fragile Ecosystems (in case you still think elections don't matter, the last government passed a carbon tax). 1/14.
California Drought Update: Gov. Brown Declares Emergency: Gov. Jerry Brown says California is in an "unprecedented, very serious situation," and calls for voluntary 20 percent statewide reduction in water consumption.
Climate Change Worse Than We Thought, Likely To Be 'Catastrophic Rather Than Simply Dangerous' while our models get better all the time, clouds have been a kind of wild card (skeptics suggest they might help cool), but new research suggests reasons for concern. 12/13.
Hole In Ozone Layer Expected To Make Full Recovery By 2070: NASA because of international treaty that could be a model for global warming fight 12/13.
Climate Change's Biggest Threats Are Those We Aren't Ready For: Report.The paper focuses on those impacts due to climate change that can happen most quickly. Among these are the rapid decline in Arctic sea ice that scientists have seen in the last decade and increased extinction pressure on plants and animals caused by the rapidly warming climate. The paper did offer two bits of good news. One, scientists don't believe that climate change is likely to shut down the Atlantic jetstream, a possibility that had been discussed in some scientific research. They also don't believe that large, rapid emissions of methane from ice and Arctic soil will pose a serious threat in the short term, as had been considered previously. 12/13.
Methane: the 'Ticking Time Bomb' That Could Cause Such Rapid Global Warming We'd Be Unable to Prevent Extinction 11/13. or maybe not, see above.
Update on Thousands Flee As Super Typhoon Rages Toward Philippines global warming a factor (audio discussion), 200 mph winds, more to come. 11/13.
How Drugs Given to Humans and Livestock May Be Creating Superbugs in Nature (salmonella in Costco chicken). see Food
Thousands Flee As Super Typhoon Rages Toward Philippines global warming a factor, 200 mph winds, more to come.
Will Congress Blow a Great Chance to Propel Green Jobs? The wind industry's robust job growth has been dogged by a boom and bust cycle that parallels the extension and expiration of the Production Tax Credit. see Wind
For energy efficiency, Americans deserve a big thumbs-up By John Upton. America’s population and economy are both growing, yet its energy appetite is falling. That’s because of substantial energy-efficiency gains made in recent decades. Those gains are helping the country reduce oil imports, save money on power bills, and move toward meeting a goal set by President Obama of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent between 2005 and 2020. The news is laid out in a Natural Resources Defense Council report cheerily titled America’s (Amazingly) Good Energy News.10/13.
Swiss Showing the World How to Take on Pay Inequality A growing movement. Switzerland is one of Europe's richest countries but does not have a minimum wage law. But growing public activism over pay inequality since the 2008 financial crisis has already led to two referendum drives on CEO pay. In March 2013, Swiss voters overwhelmingly passed one of the world's strictest controls on executive pay, forcing public companies to give shareholders a binding vote on compensation. Voters ignored the business lobby's claim that such curbs would undermine the country’s investor-friendly image. Next month, November 24, a separate proposal to limit monthly executive pay to no more than what the company's lowest-paid staff earn in a year, the so-called 1:12 initiative, faces a popular vote. Now, on Friday, Swiss activists submitted over 130,000 signatures to the Swiss Parliament likely forcing another referendum - this one to create a new law guaranteeing all Swiss nationals a basic income of CHF 2,500 a month ($2,756 US). 10/13.
7 States Resume Buying ‘Pink Slime’ for School Lunches, Point to Budget Cuts, Nutritional Standards as Culprit. 9/13. see Food Safety.
5 Things You Should Know About Colorado's '1,000 Year Flood' (with Jaw-Dropping Photos) 9/13.
Yosemite Is Burning...Here's How Climate Change Makes Wildfires Worse 8/13. Explained in 90 Seconds: How Climate Change Fuels Wildfires: Higher temperatures, prolonged drought, and fire suppression policy combine to make fires worse. video. see Fire.
Why This Year's Gulf Dead Zone Is Twice As Big As Last Year's but smaller than predicted. 8/13. See Ocean.
|Here’s how the world can get on track with climate goals|
|6/11|| ...During U.N. climate negotiations held in Copenhagen in 2009, most of the world agreed to aim for a post-Industrial Revolution temperature rise of no more than 2 degrees Celsius. But if the world keeps traveling along its current path, the International Energy Agency warns in a new report that long-term average temperature increases of between 3.6 and 5.3 degrees C are more likely.
Climate negotiations are underway to agree on a successor to the Kyoto Protocol, which could help stem the tide of rising emissions. But no new agreement is expected to come into force until 2020 — and who knows if it would even be strong enough to make a difference... But in its new report, the IEA outlines four strategies that countries could pursue during the next seven years to help spare us the “royally fucked” scenario of skyrocketing temperatures — all at zero net economic cost.
“Despite the insufficiency of global action to date, limiting the global temperature rise to 2 °C remains still technically feasible, though it is extremely challenging,” states the report, titled “Redrawing the Energy-Climate Map.”More
|Bee-killing pesticide companies are pretending to save bees|
By John Upton
Even as bees drop dead around the world after sucking down pesticide-laced nectar, pesticide makers are touting their investments in bee research. Nearly a third of commercial honeybee colonies in U.S. were wiped out last year, for a complicated array of reasons, scientists say: disease, stress, poor nutrition, mite infestations, and — yes — pesticides. Neonicotinoid pesticides seem to be particularly damaging to bees, so much so that the European Union is moving to ban them (but the U.S. is not).
Now the two main manufacturers of neonicotinoids, Bayer CropScience and Syngenta, are promoting their commitments to bee health, as is agro-giant Monsanto. From a feature story in the St. Louis Post Dispatch: Monsanto Co., which two years ago bought an Israeli bee research company, hosts an industry conference on bee health at its headquarters in Creve Coeur this month. Bayer CropScience is building a 5,500-square-foot “bee health center” in North Carolina, and with fellow chemical giant, Syngenta, has developed a “comprehensive action plan” for bee health. More
|San Onofre nuclear power plant to be closed permanently|
Southern California Edison announced Friday it is permanently shutting down the troubled San Onofre nuclear plant, ending the region's four-decade venture into nuclear energy production. The decision caps a 16-month debate about San Onofre's future but leaves the utility and state regulators grappling with who will ultimately pay more than $1 billion in costs.
One key question is whether Edison's ratepayers will see their bills increase as a result of either the shutdown or the need to purchase more expensive imported electricity to make up for what was lost from San Onofre. Edison cited the mounting costs of the outage as the driving reason for retiring the plant.
The decision to close the plant for good means state officials must now move ahead with plans for a long-term energy future without the facility that once supplied power to about 1.4 million homes. The shutdown also means that 1,100 workers at the plant will lose their jobs. The San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station has been closed for more than a year after a tube in its newly replaced steam generator system leaked a small amount of radioactive steam into the atmosphere. More
|California, Illinois lawmakers welcome frackers|
|6/5||Lawmakers rolled out red carpets for frackers last week in California and Illinois. California’s Assembly rejected, by a 37-24 vote, AB 1323, which would have imposed a moratorium on fracking until state regulators issue environmental and safety guidelines. Apparently the rush to cash in on oil and gas deposits just cannot wait for such trivial matters. “Let’s unleash this magnificent potential for jobs,” Assemblyman Jim Patterson (R) said, according to the AP. Related: Climate change a death knell for most Californian fish|
|Native People and British Columbia stop big tar-sands pipeline|
|6/3||The Canadian province of British Columbia has come out in formal opposition to a plan for a massive pipeline system that would carry bitumen from Alberta's tar-sands fields to a coastal port, pointing out the significant dangers of oil spills. But we're not talking about the Keystone XL pipeline here. We're talking about Enbridge's Northern Gateway project, a pair of pipelines proposed to carry tar-sands oil west across B.C. to a port in the town of Kitimat -- effectively a backup system in case America rejects Keystone XL. A new shipping terminal in Kitimat would feed oil onto ships headed for Asia.More|
|Illegal Monsanto GMO wheat found in Oregon|
|6/1||A farmer in Oregon found a patch of wheat growing like a weed where it wasn’t expected, so the farmer sprayed it with the herbicide Roundup. Surprisingly, some of the wheat survived. The startled farmer sent samples of the renegade wheat to a laboratory, which confirmed something that should have been impossible: The wheat was a genetically engineered variety that had never been approved to be grown in the U.S., nor anywhere else in the world. Connecticut has passed the 1st GMO labelling bill (CA got punked by 46 million in agribiz negative ads at the last minute), and the current farm bill will be key in terms of GMO's, food justice and even climate change, so get on it).More|
|U.S. Climate Change Plan Would Let All Countries Set Their Own Goals, Gains Grudging Support At UN Talks|
|Shell to drill world’s deepest offshore oil well in Gulf of Mexico|
By John Upton It's getting harder to find the oil needed to fill 'er up.Shutterstock / TupungatoIt's getting harder to find the oil to fill 'er up. Royal Dutch Shell plans to stick its oil-extracting tentacles deeper under the Gulf of Mexico than any oil company ever has.
Shell is preparing to drill 9,500 feet -- nearly two miles -- beneath the surface of the sea to suck oil out of a reserve that was discovered eight years ago, 200 miles southeast of New Orleans. The deepest oil well currently in operation, at 8,000 feet deep, is operated nearby in the Gulf, also by Shell. The quest for deeper wells reflects advancing technology and increasing desperation as shallower reserves dry up More
|Atmospheric CO2 Concentrations Surpass 400 PPM Milestone|
Atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide surpassed a notable milestone this week. They reached a daily average above 400 parts per million, reported NOAA, for the first time in human history.
The milestone, hit on May 9, may be symbolic, notes Climate Central, but manmade CO2 emissions from the burning of fossil fuels continue to rise, bringing greater atmospheric warming and exacerbating the effects of climate change. Scientists argue we've loaded the "climate dice" in favor of more weather anomalies and extreme heat waves.
Research also shows that continued emissions of long-lived greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide will mean "largely irreversible" climate change for 1,000 years even after we curtail emissions. "The last time we're confident that CO2 was sustained at these levels is more than 10 million years ago, during the middle of the Miocene period," climate scientist Michael Mann told The Huffington Post in an email. "This was a time when global temperatures were substantially warmer than today, and there was very little ice around anywhere on the planet."
Readings are taken at the NOAA-operated Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii and form part of the Keeling Curve -- a continuous record of CO2 measurements dating back to 1958. Bubbles found inside Antarctic ice core samples provide a longer record of CO2 in the air for the past 800,000 years.
CO2 measurements surpassed 400 ppm in the Arctic last summer, but the readings from Hawaii mark the first time prolonged levels above 400 ppm have been observed at more moderate latitudes.
Global carbon dioxide levels fluctuate over the course of the year, reaching an annual peak in May. LiveScience explains that the cycle reveals how trees and vegetation remove more CO2 from the air during the summer, until the annual minimum is reached in October.
"Take this day and the milestone it represents to reflect on the fragility of our civilization and and the planetary ecosystem on which it depends," Al Gore urged on Friday. "We must take immediate action to solve this crisis. Not tomorrow, not next week, not next year. Now."
350.org founder Bill McKibben said in a statement emailed to HuffPost, "The only question now is whether the relentless rise in carbon can be matched by a relentless rise in the activism necessary to stop it." Related: and XL update
|ExxonMobil’s tar-sands pipeline leaks again|
By John Upton
ExxonMobil’s 1940s-era Pegasus pipeline has been shut down since it ruptured more than a month ago in the Arkansas town of Mayflower, spilling tar-sands oil and making a big mess. But the company is legendary when it comes to spilling oil, and it wasn’t going to let a little pipeline shutdown hold back its oil-spilling ways. The very same pipeline that blackened Mayflower has leaked oil into a yard and killed plants in Doniphan, Mo., some 170 miles northeast of Mayflower. Co claims it's part of new great distribution strategy link Update: SlideShow of Annotated Photographs and Maps
|U.S. Climate Change Plan Would Let All Countries Set Their Own Goals, Gains Grudging Support At UN Talks|
By Environment Correspondent Alister Doyle
BONN, Germany, May 2 (Reuters) - A U.S.-led plan to let all countries set their own goals for fighting climate change is gaining grudging support at U.N. talks, even though the current level of pledges is far too low to limit rising temperatures substantially.
The approach, being discussed this week at 160-nation talks in Bonn, Germany, would mean abandoning the blueprint of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which set central goals for industrialised countries to cut emissions by 2012 and then let each work out national implementation.
Attempts to agree a successor to Kyoto have foundered above all on a failure to agree on the contribution that developing countries should make to curbing the industrial emissions responsible for global warming - greenhouse gases. The next ministerial conference to try to reach a deal is scheduled for Paris in 2015. The United States, recently overtaken by China as the world's biggest carbon polluter, never ratified Kyoto because it set no binding emissions cuts for rapidly growing economies such as China and India. President Barack Obama's administration now says each nation should define its "contribution" to a new U.N. accord - a weaker word than past U.S. demands for national "commitments".
Elliot Diringer, executive director of a Washington-based think-tank, the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, said there was "a growing acceptance of nationally defined approaches, with a big 'But'".
Trigg Talley, head of the U.S. delegation, noted that the agreement "will need to be applicable to all".
And even if all countries agree to participate, all sides say the initial national promises will be insufficient to rein in greenhouse gases, which are rising by about 3 percent a year even though economic growth is weak in many regions.
Under the U.S. plan, contributions might be submitted 6 months before the Paris summit, giving some time for a non-binding review to strengthen plans. The pact is due to enter into force from 2020.
Christiana Figueres, head of the U.N. Climate Change Secretariat, said it was already clear that promised emissions cuts would fall short of the level needed to prevent the global temperature rising more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times.
Temperatures are already up by about 0.8 degree C (1.4F).
"The challenge for the 2015 agreement is precisely to bridge that gap," she said. "The process is not on track with respect to the demands of science."
International scientists say it is highly likely that high levels of greenhouse gases are already changing the climate and that it is at least 90 percent probable that human activities are the main cause. In Geneva, the World Meteorological Organization said on Thursday that 2012 was the ninth warmest year since records began in the 19th century. Among extremes, Arctic sea ice shrank to a record low and Superstorm Sandy battered the United States.
Many emerging nations are still holding out in Bonn for binding common targets, especially for rich countries. But securing a bigger role by the United States might mean accepting a relatively weak accord in 2015.
Jennifer Morgan of the World Resources Institute think-tank said the negotiation process was a "dance". "People want to make sure the United States is in, but many are deeply worried about what that may mean," she said.
The United States and China did agree last month to work more closely together on climate change, saying they hoped it would inspire action by others. Many delegates welcomed the plan, but said the two emitters have not led in the past.
|2012 Was Ninth-Hottest Year Since 1850, 'Worrisome Sign' Of Climate Change, UN's Weather Agency Says|
GENEVA (AP) — The World Meteorological Organization says last year was the ninth-warmest since record-keeping began in 1850, despite the cooling effect of the weather pattern called La Nina. The U.N.'s weather agency says this marks the 27th year in a row the global average temperature — 58 degrees Fahrenheit (14.45 degrees Celsius) in 2012 — surpassed the 1961-1990 average.
WMO said in annual climate report Thursday the years from 2001 to 2012 were all among the top 13 warmest on record — the hottest being 2010, when the average temperature was 58.2 degrees F (14.6 degrees C). WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud says "sustained warming of the lower atmosphere is a worrisome sign" of global warming despite La Nina, which is the flip side of El Nino and generally cools the oceans globally.
|Solar panels could destroy U.S. utilities, according to U.S. utilities|
Solar power and other distributed renewable energy technologies could lay waste to U.S. power utilities and burn the utility business model, which has remained virtually unchanged for a century, to the ground. That is not wild-eyed hippie talk. It is the assessment of the utilities themselves. More
|4/20||87 percent of supermarket meat — including beef, pork, chicken, and turkey products — tests positive for normal and antibiotic-resistant forms of Enterococcus bacteria.|
|A River of Tar Sands Crude Floods an Arkansas Town|
|4/19||20 homes were evacuated as the result of a major blowout along ExxonMobil’s Pegasus pipeline, which pushes up to 90,000 barrels of heavy Canadian tar sands crude from terminals in Illinois to refineries in Texas. Officials estimate the spill released more than 200,000 gallons of the thick tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada—referred to by Exxon as Wabasca Heavy crude but considered tar sands by authorities in Canada. The carbon-rich oil is mixed with chemical additives called diluents to flow though pipelines.|
|Monsanto Announces $1.48 Billion Profit Amid 'Monsanto Protection Act' Controversy|
|3/18||Monsanto says its net income increased 22 percent in the second quarter on strong sales of its biotech seeds.
The agricultural products company boosted its full-year earnings guidance, citing its strong performance in the first two quarters.
The news of the profit boost comes as critics slam lawmakers for including in legislation a provision, dubbed the "Monsanto Protection Act," that would shield the company from lawsuits over health risks related to genetically modified seeds, according to CBS News.
Critics claim the provision would put the company and other similar firms above the law by eliminating officials' ability to block the sale of the seeds even if they prove dangerous to consumers, according to CBS.
The St. Louis company says it earned $1.48 billion, or $2.74 per share in the three months ended Feb. 13. That compares to earnings of $1.21 billion, or $2.24 per share, a year ago.
Revenue climbed 15 percent to $5.47 billion.
Analysts polled by FactSet expected Monsanto to report earnings of $2.56 per share on sales of $5.27 billion in revenue for the quarter.
Monsanto has dominated the bioengineered-seed business for more than a decade. In recent years the company has focused on growing business in emerging markets like Argentina, Brazil and other Latin American countries.
|Whole Foods will grow rooftop greens in a Superfund site|
By Sarah Laskow
The Whole Food site in Gowanus, Brooklyn, doesn't look like much yet. Actually, in general, Gowanus doesn't look like much these days -- it's a once-industrial neighborhood that's increasingly being taken over by pickling factories and music studios. You can walk whole blocks without passing by much except maybe a coffin wholesaler, and then hit upon a corner where there's a pie place, a barbecue joint, and a home-brew shop.
It also smells bad, fairly often. Because this is where the Gowanus Canal is, and that’s still a Superfund site. The city's sewage system still dumps overflow into it during storms. It is actually possible, if you're lucky, to see poop float by.
So, here comes Whole Foods, a company that likes to talk about being local and green, and on top of its new, big store here, it's going to build a rooftop farm. A 20,000-square-foot rooftop farm.More
|Gene discovery could breed veggies for a warmer planet|
By Susie Cagle
The nearly $2 billion lettuce industries of California and Arizona are likely to get mighty wilted as temperatures in those hot states continue to rise. But science is here to save the day -- with GMOs.
A research team with USDA and National Science Foundation funding has identified a lettuce gene and enzyme that make the plants stop germinating when it's too hot -- so now scientists hope to tweak those lettuces to grow even when they naturally wouldn't. Currently growers have to cool soil and seeds with extra cool water, at great expense. The study, published in the journal The Planet Cell, was a collaboration between scientists at India's Ranga Agricultural University, the University of California at Davis, and scientists from Arcadia Biosciences. more
|An urban farming oasis is saved from the bulldozer blade|
By Laura Onstot
There is one thing no gardener wants to hear: “Don’t plant this spring.” But that’s the word Angela Stanbery-Ebner received in February while plotting out the year’s crops at her garden in urban Cincinnati. No tomatoes this year, no chard, no selling at the farmers market, no community-supported agriculture operation run by neighborhood youth for low-income families.
Stanbery-Ebner’s garden, known as the Eco Garden, isn’t your standard backyard fare. It’s an agricultural oasis in a Cincinnati neighborhood better known for its crime than its heirloom carrots. Unfortunately for the Eco Garden, it doesn’t own the land on which it sits, the city does. This year, as part of its initiative to encourage urban development — known as CitiRama — the city started eyeing it for housing.
When the gardeners got the news, “we were basically devastated,” Stanbery-Ebner says. Out went the emails, an online petition, and calls to the city council in an effort to save one of the most vibrant corners of a rough-around-the-edges neighborhood. more
|EPA sued over failure to protect bees from pesticides|
|3/26||The battle for the bees is headed to court. Beekeepers and activist groups, fed up with the wanton use of insecticides that kill bees and other pollinators, filed a federal lawsuit Thursday. They are suing to try to force the EPA to ban or better regulate neonicotinoids and other pesticides that kill bees and butterflies and lead to colony collapse disorder.
From a press release put out by the Center for Food Safety, one of the plaintiffs in the case:
“Beekeepers and environmental and consumer groups have demonstrated time and time again over the last several years that EPA needs to protect bees. The agency has refused, so we’ve been compelled to sue,” said Center for Food Safety attorney, Peter T. Jenkins. “EPA’s unlawful actions should convince the Court to suspend the approvals for clothianidin and thiamethoxam products until those violations are resolved.” More
|Dean Kamen's Slingshot Aims To Bring Fresh Water To The World|
A recent invention called the Slingshot could provide freshwater to those with some of the most limited access. Inventor Dean Kamen, best known as the man behind the Segway, has partnered with Coca-Cola to place his machines throughout developing nations in Africa and Central America in hopes of eliminating the millions of deaths each year related to waterborne disease.
More than 783 million people don't have access to clean water and 37 percent don't have access to sanitation facilities, facts highlighted by the UN during World Water Day last week. The device can take any form of potentially contaminated liquid and distill it into something safe to drink -- by evaporating the water and then condensing the steam, leaving pathogens behind. Kamen even joked in a 2008 interview with Steven Colbert that the Slingshot could sanitize a 50-gallon drum of urine. More
|Summer rains in Southwest arriving late because of climate change|
As if the parched Southwestern U.S. didn't have enough problems already, here's another one. The quenching storms that take the edge off the scorching heat near parts of the U.S.-Mexico border during the hottest months are arriving later than they used to. New research indicates that climate change could push their arrival back nearly until the fall by the end of the century.
That's because it's becoming more difficult for rain-forming clouds to materialize until the atmosphere becomes saturated later in the summer season, when the skies finally explode in rainstorms over parts of Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and northwestern Mexico.
The fallout from a substantially delayed monsoon season, which is predicted in a new study published in the Journal of Geophysical Research, could include crop failures and increasingly uncomfortable summers.
|Whole Foods, Trader Joe's And Others Vow Not To Sell GMO Fish|
If it gets final approval from the Food and Drug Administration, the salmon would be the first genetically engineered animal to enter this country's human food supply. The United States already is the world's largest market for foods made with genetically altered plant ingredients. AquaBounty says its "AquAdvantage Salmon" can grow to market size in half the time of conventional salmon, saving time and resources. The fish is essentially Atlantic salmon with a Pacific salmon gene for faster growth and a gene from the eel-like ocean pout that promotes year-round growth.
Critics say such genetically modified products are not sufficiently tested for safety, carry allergy risks and should be labeled. Proponents disagree and say the products are safe.
|Green Job Growth Outpaced All Other Industries 2010-2011|
For people looking to put their finances in the black, a new report suggests they may be wise to look green.
That's according to a report released Tuesday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics that breaks down employment in green goods and services through 2011. As first pointed out by the LA Times, the report shows "green jobs" growing from 2010 through 2011 at a rate 4 times faster than all other industries combined.
The BLS defines green jobs as those that produce goods or services "that benefit the environment or conserve natural resources," or jobs "in which workers' duties involve making their establishment's production processes more environmentally friendly or use fewer natural resources."
As of 2011, green jobs accounted for 2.6 percent of all jobs in the economy, for a total just north of 3.4 million jobs. Construction lead the charge in the private sector, with an employment increase from 7.0 to 8.9 percent (slightly more than 100,000 jobs) between 2010 and 2011.
|Frankenfoods hitch a ride through Congress|
|3/18||Remember that one time? In Congress? When an anonymous group of House Republicans tried and failed to sneak a rider into the farm bill that would have exempted agribusiness from liability for biotech crops and all but eliminated the government’s power to regulate them? Good times.
Well, the implosion of the farm bill did nothing to stop Monsanto, Syngenta, DuPont, et al’s quest to insulate themselves from lawsuits. Maybe it has something to do with the rise of superweeds and superbugs resistant to their products and the fact that commodity farmers are just maybe starting to take a hard look at the costs versus the benefits of the current and coming crop of genetically modified seeds. Or perhaps it’s simply a desire to complete their dominance of U.S. agriculture.
Whatever the reason, the so-called “Monsanto rider” is back, this time thanks to an anonymous senator, or group of senators, who have attached it to the must-pass “Continuing Resolution” that will keep the government operating as of March 27. Let me just say that when it comes to Congress — which is chockablock with men and women desperate for media attention — whenever you hear the word “anonymous” attached to anything, you know you there’s something sketchy going on. More
|A Green Pope?|
|3/18|| VATICAN CITY, March 19 (Reuters) - Pope Francis on Tuesday issued a strong appeal for the protection of the environment and the defence of the weakest members of society, urging the world to shun, "the omens of destruction and death".
"It means respecting each of God's creatures and respecting the environment in which we live. It means protecting people, showing loving concern for each and every person, especially children, the elderly, those in need, who are often the last we think about," he said in the homily of his inaugural Mass.
Francis, the former Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina, took his name in honour of St. Francis of Assisi, a symbol of poverty, charity and love of nature. (Reporting By Philip Pullella and Catherine Hornby)
|Storm Surge Risk Amplified By Climate Change, Study Finds|
Global warming has already doubled the risk of Hurricane Katrina-magnitude storm surges in the U.S., according to a new study published Monday. The study, which was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, estimates that for every 1.8°F increase in global average surface temperatures, there could be a two-fold to seven-fold increase in the risk of Katrina-magnitude surge events. The latest climate projections call for the globe to warm by between 3.2°F and 7.2°F by 2100, depending on future greenhouse gas emissions and the precise sensitivity of the climate system to such pollutants.
|Extreme weather and GMO crops devastate monarch butterfly migration|
It's not so much the butterfly effect as the butterfly affected: We knew monarchs had it bad as of late, but there was some hope for their winter migration -- until scientists conducted a census. In just two years, the annual migration of North American monarch butterflies has declined by 59 percent, and scientists are blaming extreme weather and "changed farming practices," according to the New York Times. In other words, monster storms and monster Monsanto. 
|U.N. to poor people: Sorry, pollution and warming will hit you hardest|
By Susie Cagle
It's that time of year again. You're enjoying unseasonably warm weather / digging out from under an unexpected snow storm, looking forward to a summer full of invasive mosquitos, and oh, what's this? Why, it's another U.N. Human Development Report with terrible news about the planet! The report celebrates advances in developing countries, improved conditions for the poor, and the "dramatic rebalancing of economic power" worldwide, i.e. the rise of Brazil, China, and India to crush Western white people. But it warns all that could be lost with climate change, deforestation, and air and water pollution. As usual, and as noted in past U.N. reports, the poor have the most to lose. More
|Wind power is poised to kick nuclear’s ass|
|3/15||In 2012, wind energy became the fastest-growing source of new electricity generation in the U.S., providing 42 percent of new generation capacity, according to the American Wind Energy Association. Wind power is becoming so cheap and so commonplace that it appears poised to help blow up the country's nuclear power sector, according to a recent Bloomberg article (which you really should read in full). More|
|Calories make you fat, but sugary calories make you fat and diabetic|
|3/11||Two new books out this week on sugar and processed foods. Related: NYC judge throws out Bloomberg’s big sugar drink ban more|